City budget, testimony needed, spring fundraiser, development update

I have a lot to update you on, so please pardon the length of this post. I’ve tried to break things into headings so you can easily skim through it, but please do take a look, as there are number of important updates that you may want to be aware of. As you’ll see, there are several pieces of legislation up for public hearing, many of which have to do with the budget.  In particular, the Mayor has legislation up for a public hearing that would completely gut our environmental office. As you can guess, I’m opposing that (see my Capital Op-ed) and responded with my own legislation to create a new Environmental Department, like we previously had for about 15 years. I hope you will consider testifying on that and the other legislation up for a public hearing.

Also, I hope to see you at my spring fundraiser at Caliente Grill this Tuesday (April 30th), from 7-9 pm (more below).

Important Updates

Spring fundraiser

I would like to invite you to my spring fundraiser at Caliente Grill, this Tuesday (April 30th) from 7-9 PM. It’s called “appetizers and activism” because I’d like to get together with you, my supporters and constituents, over some appetizers to talk about what our activism can accomplish in the future. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving Ward 7 and I hope you will give me another opportunity to do so in 2021. I know I’m planning way ahead, but that’s how my mind works. I’m asking $25. Please RSVP here.

Testimony needed - Mayor proposes to gut environmental office

Please read my Capital Op-Ed. Suffice it to say, the Mayor means well but is not thinking this through. His move would gut and marginalize our environmental programs and put them at risk even moreso under future administrations. It would be an enormous step backwards and I hope he re-considers. Your testimony and comments are needed this Monday night!

Community meeting about the proposed Lidl grocery store

On May 1st, from 6-7pm (not sure why only an hour) at the Rec Center the Lidl developers will be holding a meeting required by the County to talk about their proposed project. For those who may not be aware, Lidl is proposing to build on the property across the street from the Giant, at the old C&C liquors site. It’s a rather large store, larger than the Trader Joe’s store, and they successfully received a variance from the County to build larger than allowed. The property is in the County, yet the developer is not honoring the City’s vision for that area called Bay Village, which would have continued the secondary roadway behind the CVS connecting from Edgewood Road to Georgetown Road. Now is your chance to have your voice heard. Do you think we need a new grocery store? Are you concerned about additional traffic? Is this preferable over an Office Building being constructed here, as was proposed in the past? Should they be honoring the City’s vision for a Bay Village Drive? Any other concerns? Please attend the meeting and be heard.

Forest Drive-Eastport Sector Study - comments due end of May

If you should have any comments regarding the Sector Study please send them to be by the end of May. We will be sending public comments through our Standing Committees, and then they go off to the Planning Commission, with whom we will be engaging in a dialog about the Study. Then there will be another public hearing and finally a vote on some type of Resolution dealing with the Study.

The Environmental Matters Committee, which I Chair, sent detailed comment to our Planning & Zoning Department overhauling the environmental section and creating a new “environmental enhancement” community designation, that could be used to downzone properties, protect sensitive areas, or do other environmental enhancement activities for stormwater or forests. If you would like to see those recommendations please let me know and I’ll send them to you.

Annapolis Comprehensive Plan Kickoff Meeting Set

May 7 at “Pip” Moyer – Public is Invited to Attend

The City of Annapolis is preparing to kickoff the 2020 Comprehensive Plan.  A comprehensive plan is a broad statement about the community, looking approximately 20 years ahead. It includes specific goals – and strategies to achieve those goals. The plan includes performance measures and targets to help determine if goals are being met.  

The first public meeting will be held on May 7 at 7 p.m. at “Pip” Moyer Recreation Center, 273 Hilltop Lane, Annapolis.

The City offers presentations on the Comprehensive Plan to community meetings and business associations. (I’ll likely ask them to do so at a future town hall meeting)

For an overview, visit:  www.annapolis.gov/1446/2020-Comprehensive-Plan.

For specific questions, email Sally Nash, the City’s chief of comprehensive planning at snash@annpaolis.gov.

Budget commentary

I’m still making my way through the Mayor’s proposed budget, but here’s what I can tell you at this point. First of all, there is no proposed tax increase. That could change, but I suspect it won’t. There may be some increases in fees. Our expenses exceed our revenues, and it appears that the Administration is using our numerous “savings” accounts to balance the budget. The Mayor/City Manager are proposing to move both Economic Policy and Environmental Policy to the Mayor’s Office. I think this would be a huge mistake in that it would over-politicize those issues, filter policy through the Mayor’s Office (instead of coming right to Council from staff), undermines the Council’s role in creating policy, and would create instability in those programs whenever a new Mayor is elected. I also strongly oppose the dissolution of our Office of Environmental Policy for the reasons stated in my Capital Op-ed. To make a long story short it would weaken our environmental programs by diluting them in larger departments and we would make it difficult to implement the policy we enact. Overall I’m not too please with the budget, as I feel it was done in a vacuum without consultation or collaboration with the Council. The City Manager did shop around her reorganization plans a few months ago after I pushed them on it, but it was a disingenuous effort at they had already made up their minds anyway. Regarding our Capital Improvement Plan (Capital projects), the Hillman Garage is again left off the list to be funded this year, the pool will be rebuilt after this summer season, the Mayor sets the groundwork for his Spa Road land swap with the Bozzuto Developers (which I’m undecided on), just to name a few highlights. I’ll have more on this in the future, but like I said, I’m still analyzing the budget as the information is getting to us piecemeal.

Next Council meeting - 4/29/19 (agenda)

Legislation on First Reader (i.e. introduction)

  • For the sake of brevity, instead of me listing everything up for First Reader, you can view the legislation by clicking on the agenda link above. For the purpose of this newsletter I’m going to focus on legislation that is up for a public hearing or final vote.

Public hearings

  • O-44-18 - Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU) adjustments - this legislation, of which I am a co-sponsor, would essentially place restrictions and guidelines on when and how the P&Z Director can grant density or height bonuses to projects that include MPDUs. We have had a problem in Eastport where projects were granted height bonuses that caused the buildings to be out of character with the rest of the community.
  • O-1-19 - Fair Housing - Protected Classes - For the purpose of adding protected classes to the Annapolis Fair Housing laws and including additional unlawful housing practices; and generally relating to Fair Housing. I am a co-sponsor of this legislation.
  • O-2-19 - Freestanding Signs - For the purpose of permitting free-standing signs and business community identification signs in certain zoning districts; removing the minimum lot width requirement for freestanding signs in certain zoning districts; amending the regulations for wall-mounted signs; and matters generally relating to updating and amending the sign code.
  • O-12-19 - dissolution of the Office of Environmental Policy - This Ordinance of the Mayor’s would dissolve our Office of Environmental Policy, distribute its staff to other Departments, alter those staff’s job duties by stripping environmental duties from them, and put an incredible amount of responsibilities in a new Environmental Policy Advisor position to be housed in the Mayor’s Office. I strongly disagree with this approach. It would be a disaster for our environmental programs (see my Capital guest column). Here’s why I disagree:
    • There would be no stability and contiguity in our Environmental Programs should a new Mayor be elected.
    • It would filter all policy through the Mayor’s political office, rather than having it come from staff to the Council or Mayor. Essentially this would further de-power the Council, who is the only policy body in the City.
    • It would dilute our environmental programs.
    • It would be a policy advisor position with  no ability, power, or staff to work on or ensure actual implementation.

    If you are concerned about this please come out and testify against it.

  • O-13-19 - This Ordinance officially creates an Office of law that reports to the Mayor’s Office. Overall I think this is a good move but adjustments need to be made as the Office of Law also serves the Council and this needs to be incorporated.
  • O-14-19 - Moves our Economic Development Office out of Planning & Zoning and into the Mayor’s Office. I’m very skeptical of this proposal for similar reasons why I’m opposing putting Environmental Policy into the Mayor’s Office: it allows the Mayor’s Office to control the policy, creates too much instability with future administrations, and disconnects Economic Policy from our comprehensive planning documents.
  • O-15-19 - The Office of Emergency Management - For the purpose of making technical and other corrections to the Office of Emergency Management section of the City Code; clarifying the role of the Harbormaster during a public emergency, making certain stylistic changes; and generally related to emergency management.
  • O-16-19 - This ordinance changes the pay and classification of a number of higher level positions. In particular, this ordinance reduces the pay of the Environmental Policy Director and turns the position into an advisor. As I’ve indicated earlier, I am opposed to this change as it would weaken and deemphasize our environmental programs.
  • O-18-19 - Creation of a Department of the Environment. This is my legislation, with co-sponsors Alderman Arnett and Rodriguez. As a counter to the Mayor’s proposal to dissolve our environmental programs, I am proposing to strengthen such programs by creating a Department of the Environment.
  • R-15-19 - Position Classifications and Pay Plan for FY20
  • R-16-19 - FY20 fee schedule
  • R-17-19 - FY20 fines schedule

Legislation up for a final vote

  • O-8-18 - School capacity - When someone wants to build in Annapolis, they first need to make sure that the school serving the development has capacity. Our law currently sets 105% for Elementary and Middle Schools and 120% for our High School. If the capacity is higher than those percentages developers have to sit on a 6-year waiting list. This ordinance attempts to set all percentages to 100%; the same the County has. The Co-sponsors have encountered significant resistance and we have not been able to get it passed yet. The Mayor delayed this a few times wanting to speak with the School District and County Executive. Now he is ready to vote but he has introduced two amendments, one of which might weaken our standard for our High School capacity (i.e. a higher percentage) than it currently is (120%), by subtracting the students entering our High School from outside the Annapolis area--the magnet students--from the calculations. I’m awaiting some of the data before I decide how I’ll vote on that amendment, but I am skeptical. I am a co-sponsor of the underlying legislation, but if it is weakened I may not vote for it in the end.
  • O-4-19 - Special residential parking districts - For the purpose of transferring the residential parking permit program to the Department of Transportation; clarifying the eligibility requirements for resident, nonresident and temporary parking permits; and specifying the restrictions on parking permits issued under the residential parking permit program. This would not impact Ward 7, so I’m inclined to yield to my colleague in Ward 1 since this is her “territory”, but I’m not 100% committed and need to make sure that the concerns raised during public hearing have been addressed.
  • R-2-19 - This would waive the fees associated with the St. Patrick’s Day parade, totalling about $8,000. I am trying to be very cautious about waiving fees, but think it may be acceptable to do so when the organization is a non-profit, and/or when the event is clearly in the City’s or public’s best interest. Given that this parade is so successful and large, brings a lot of folks downtown, and the funds go to a non-profit, I am leaning towards supporting the waiver. My thinking is fluid on all of this, so please send me your thoughts, although we may postpone this until the sponsor returns to the Council.
  • R-11-19 - For the purpose recognizing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Baltimore Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Report; and resolving that the ULI Baltimore TAP Report be considered in implementing present and future development of the Annapolis City Dock. I am a co-sponsor and intend to support this, pending any comments from you.

Community updates

National Night Out

START PLANNING NOW FOR NATIONAL NIGHT OUT Organize and Encourage Communities in Your Ward to Participate in: National Night Out 2019 Tuesday, August 6 Suggested Times Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states on the first Tuesday in August. Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. Annapolis Police Department will have an officer at each event and K-9 and officers from other specialized units will visit each National Night Out Event Contact Patti Norris at pmnorris@annapolis.gov or 410-268-9000 ext. 7251 to get your event on our list.

Naptown Anti-Dope Move[meant] Part 6

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Mayor‘s Office of Public Engagement is Launching a Public Health Awareness Initiative called The Naptown Anti-Dope Movemeant. This initiative was designed in direct response to the alarming Fatal Overdose Rate of African Americans in The City of Annapolis. Take The #OpioidFreeAnnapolis Pledge https://www.change.org/p/mayor-s-office-take-the-city-of-annapolis-opioid-free-pledge


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  • Rob Savidge